05 Oct What are the early signs of labour?
First of all, every woman, her pregnancy and her birth experience is very different. What you may experience can vary widely from what your friend or sister or mother may have experienced.
Quite often in the days leading up to labour, women can feel full of beans compared to the last few weeks of pregnancy. This sudden burst of energy is due to the build-up of oxytocin as your body preps itself for labour. This can be so strong that your partner or friends may feel you’re behaving irrationally if you’re putting on load after load of washing, batch cooking for the freezer and painting the walls right as you’re about to burst.
A lot of women report pelvic discomfort or deep back ache as baby’s head is dropping right down into the pelvis and begins to put pressure on the muscles between the hips. This can feel heavy and even uncomfortable, bouncing on a birthing ball can be the only way you’re able to sit down comfortably as your hips are supported.. let’s not forget, it’s fun too!
Runny Tummy – If you’re experiencing an upset stomach or even diarrhoea from gastric or intestinal discomfort, this is totally normal too.
The dreaded contractions. It’s important to be aware that if you feel your abdomen tightening it may not be a sign of ‘true’ labour but instead, what you may be experiencing is Braxton Hicks. Braxton Hicks contractions are painless contractions of the uterine muscles which come and go in waves. The difference to be aware of is that real labour contractions start and build up but they won’t go away. You may have a few warning days where you’re getting some regular, slightly uncomfortable surges.
You may lose “the show”. The show is thick mucusy discharge inside the cervix which acts as a barrier against anything getting into the uterus. As your hormones kick in and your body prepares for labour, the cervix softens and the show will appear as large think clumps of discharge. Not everyone will lose the show before they go into the labour, some women don’t lose the show before their baby is born but it’s a good ‘tell-tale sign. (You can learn more about “the show”, here).
Increased discharge! This is different to the show, it can be white or clear in colour and slightly thicker to the discharge your used to. If you’re losing clear discharge, it could be your waters breaking.
The water around your baby is very thin and you’ll know your waters have broken rather than be experiencing discharge when the water doesn’t stop dripping! You can pop in or call your maternity hospital to let them know what’s happening and they’ll be able to confirm this for you (even if you’re not experiencing any pain or discomfort, please let your hospital know).
Again, you may not experience any of these signs or you may experience all of them and if you’re ever in doubt, you’re always able to give your hospital a call to discuss any concerns you have.
Here at The Baby Academy, we believe it’s better to be the most prepared you can be, which is why we developed our full-day antenatal class which prepares you for the best possible birth experience! Sign up for our FREE Baby Care Workshop below.